Tested: 2010 Nissan Qashqai +2

The wonderful déjà-vu

I could swear that I’ve already tested a Nissan Qashqai not too dissimilar from the one that’s grinning at me from my driveway. Didn’t I already tell you that the little cross-over with its lively engine is wonderful to drive?

The two major defences of my sanity are a few cosmetic updates of the Qashqai and the addition of “+2” to its bootlid-bound badge. So what I’m staring at now (besides a blank review) is a face-lifted vehicle with two additional seats.

Qashqai’s body panels retain their modern creases and chunky black plastics with a few minor tweaks to bumpers and light clusters. It still looks like a cheeky four-by-four but the 2010 Qashqai is a pure two-wheel-drive SUV impersonator with silver roof rails.

The cross-over range includes four normal Q-cars and two +2 derivatives, garnished with your choice of 1.6 or 2-litre petrol 4-cylinder engines, Visia or Acenta trim, 5 or 6 speed manual and a CVT automatic gearbox.

To give our test mule its full description, you are now viewing a Nissan Qashqai +2 2.0 Acenta in Bright Silver. The 2-litre models utilise the 6-speed manual ‘box while all 1.6 engines are mated to the 5-speed equivalent.

The 1997cc 16-valve in-line 4-cylinder petrol engine develops an unspectacular 102kW (139hp) at 5200rpm or an acceptable 198Nm at 4400rpm. Thing is, both these figures feel neither unspectacular nor acceptable when you pilot the 2-litre Qashy.

No thanks to its good gear ratios the trendy cross-over never fails to impress and shines with an engine that Jackal-and-Hydes between a torque junky and rev addict. It’s not bi-turbo brawny or fireworks fast but it feels considerably stronger than it looks on paper.

Sixth gear is strictly for highway cruising and economy fanatics but even in its taller ratios the engine will eventually increase the vehicle’s momentum. Drop a few cogs and floor it to experience seamless acceleration right up to its 6500rpm redline.

Nissan South Africa’s website alleges a 0-100km/h sprint time of 10.5 seconds but we’re thrilled to report that our GPS measured only 9.7 seconds with a ¾ tank of fuel. Top speed is just under 200km/h, average CO2 emissions are 199g/km and consumption from it 65L tank should be around 8.5L/100km.

Qash-qash has another trick up its sleeve with car-like behaviour when it comes to cornering and road holding, topped with a sweet serving of passenger comfort. The big 215/55R18 wheels not only look good but team up with the McPherson and multi-link suspension to offer predictable handling and excellent comfort levels.

The brakes will stop this Nissan smoothly or with abrupt ABS-assisted precision and other safety nets worth mentioning include multiple airbags, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, vehicle dynamic and traction control, immobiliser and microdot markings.

Furthermore, you will quickly discover that a Nissan Qashqai is delightfully easy to pilot. The pedals respond instantly and are just as easy to operate as the electrically-assisted steering. The gear change is somewhat notchy but still precise in its actions.

Said steering wheel also features satellite buttons for sound, source and cruise control and resides in front of a stylish and logical instrument cluster with multi-function display. The rest of the cabin follows this trend with a few sprinkles of snazzy design.

Nissan’s radio with 6 speakers delivers decent noises and offers an AUX socket in the central cubby hole between the front seats. Unfortunately its CD player has no idea what to do with mp3 files and this was the only gripe I had with my Qashtjie.

Both front seats and the rear bench offer ample leg and head room for adults but the plus-two seats in the far back are only suitable for children; or grown-ups you really, really dislike. These two seats completely collapse into the cargo area floor and thus offer extra seating for a school run or small family outings sans luggage.

Further Qash-point strengths are adjustable auto headlights, electric windows and mirrors, remote central locking, dual-zone climate control, comprehensive lighting, two 12V sockets, Bluetooth hands-free function, 40/20/40 split rear bench, leather steering wheel and gear lever.

Most acquaintances and the odd stranger in a parking lot exhibited high levels of interest in the Nissan cross-over and its appealing looks, especially once they were seated inside and glanced over the cascading bonnet with its two Mercedes 300SL Gullwing power domes.

A Nissan Qashqai +2 could be yours for N$303 500 with a 3 year 90 000km service plan, 3 year 100 000km warranty and 3 year paint, mechanical and anti-corrosion warranty. If its CD player understood mp3 files, I would happily describe it as perfect.

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